I was asked to check in on my brother-in-law’s cat while his family was vacationing in Mexico, which is a task I thought I could readily embrace — no real responsibilities, since the food and litter situation was taken care of, just the request to infrequently socialize with a cat, which is pretty much one of my very favorite things to do.

The first day I checked on her was about 3 days into their trip, and she was extremely vocal and pleased to see me. Normally too shy to endure being approached, she wound around my ankles with a lot of flopping and purring. It was a nice visit: I took a photo, sent it to Joe, and went on my way.

The next time I stopped by, the cat had clearly had enough of being cooped up without any company: as soon as I raised the garage door, she came flying out in a blur. I mean a BLUR, she was like a small furry Secretariat gunning for the win. She led me on a grim and probably comical-to-observe chase through the neighborhood before sequestering herself in a crawlspace several houses down, ignoring my pleas and the rattle of her food bowl.

I ended up reluctantly leaving, with the plans to come back later and hope she was waiting by the garage. She’s an inside/outside cat but in the family’s absence they had corralled her inside with access to the garage where her food and litter was. Thanks to me, she was now locked outside, with no way to enter the garage or house.

Of course it began raining, like actual aggressive buckets of rain, and when I came back later she was nowhere to be found. I called and called and eventually left the garage cracked enough for me to slither myself out on the ground like some sort of bizarre reverse burglar (I had no key and couldn’t lock the front door from the outside) and that’s when I got the text from Joe:

“How’s my kitty?”

Now. I ask you: what would you do, in that situation? Keep in mind Joe and his family were in another country, enjoying themselves in the sun, and there was nothing whatsoever he could do to help with the missing cat situation aside from worry.

I asked a friend for moral guidance, and she advised that I ‘fess up: maybe Joe could tell me where the cat’s favorite hiding spots were, for instance. I considered this but either out of a true wish to preserve Joe’s vacation or my own cowardice, I went to Riley for a second opinion.

“Yeah … this sounds like a you thing,” he said, after hearing the situation.

“NOT. REMOTELY. HELPFUL,” I told him, although I could deeply identify with the perspective of not wanting to get involved.

He briefly removed his ever-present earbuds to come up with an idea: text Joe back, but say something that was technically probably true without providing any unpleasant details.

She still doesn’t like me, I wrote, But she’s doing fine.

Now that I was both a total failure as a cat caretaker AND maybe also a horrible liar AND I’d left their home unsecured, I went back again after Dylan’s basketball practice that night, and did what John advised: I shut the garage door without entering, crossing my fingers she’d come inside but not giving her the chance to escape again.

Just before I pulled out of the driveway, though, Dylan said he thought we should go in and see if she was hiding under the bed. “I’ve seen her do that before,” he said, and I weighed my options: go in and not find her and then live with that bad feeling, or just drive away while preserving some modicum of hope.

So many things to wrestle with! This was supposed to be FUN.

I did go back inside and at first I was awash in total doom because she didn’t come when we called her and I was like O GOD SHE IS FLATTENED UNDER A MUDDY TIRE SOMEWHERE and then as we started walking up the stairs she was just suddenly there, rubbing herself against a bannister and looking at us like jeez, you guys seem stressed out.

“HECK YEAH,” Dylan shouted, and we slapped palms and tore ass out of there, not even stopping to pet her. Garage door down, cat verified inside, skin prickling with adrenaline, I peeled out of their neighborhood and vowed not to return before Joe did.

Once they got home I learned that the cat probably would have been just fine because she does come and go as she pleases, which was information I could have used before, say, flattening myself on the ground in order to Mission-Impossible my way out of a garage but not before the spiderweb-encrusted door scraped its way across my actual sideturned face — however, all’s well that ends well, and next time I’m demanding either a tranq gun or a house key, or better yet, my own trip to a relaxing beachfront resort because that shit was STRESSFUL.


17 Responses to “Cat lady FAIL”

  1. Suzanne on January 27th, 2020 10:16 am

    HARROWING. I am so glad it turned out well. Cats really know how to mess your mind! (I love cats.)

  2. Derek on January 27th, 2020 10:24 am

    “she was like a small furry Secretariat gunning for the win” – excellent imagery. Made me laugh out loud.


  3. Samantha Campen on January 27th, 2020 10:45 am

    Fucking cats

  4. k on January 27th, 2020 12:56 pm

    I won’t go into details, but this kind of happened to me while watching the neighbor’s fish. FISH.

  5. Linda on January 27th, 2020 1:04 pm

    I think we ALL want the details on that one.

  6. ellen Morris prewitt on January 27th, 2020 1:46 pm

    Ah, the timing of that “How’s my kitty?” :)

  7. Kim on January 27th, 2020 2:03 pm

    I am morally against flipping to the back page of the book to see what happens but JESUS CHRIST, I had to know this had a happy ending.

  8. Gigi on January 27th, 2020 4:54 pm

    I can relate! The Husband was supposed to cat-sit a few years ago (well, MORE than a few years ago now, I suppose) for our neighbors and the exact same thing happened – minus the text asking how the cat was. He and our son spent hours looking for that cat. They eventually discovered the cat in the house and unharmed. We all agreed to keep this quiet. And that went well…up until our other neighbor spilled the beans over drinks a year or so later.

  9. carole on January 27th, 2020 6:36 pm

    Every time, I repeat: EVERY TIME I have watched someone’s pet, something of this sort has happened. The animals don’t behave their normal way because their normal routine is changed.It is awful, scary, crazy-making, etc. I am glad it all worked out.

  10. Andrea on January 27th, 2020 7:55 pm

    One of my favorite George Carlin clip…


  11. Shawna on January 27th, 2020 8:02 pm

    I was supposed to take care of my brother’s guineapig a couple of years ago. It died the day before I was supposed to pick it up! Thank GOD it didn’t hang on for an extra 24 hours because the guilt would have been awful!

  12. Nikki on January 28th, 2020 9:08 am

    I totally just pictured this ALL in my head as the scene in Silence of The Lambs where Clarice is entering the storage unit? My coworkers now think I’m a loon for chortling like crazy. I needed the laugh though so thank you!!

  13. Jenny on January 29th, 2020 7:05 am

    WHEW! Very glad everything worked out!

  14. Donna on January 29th, 2020 9:35 am

    And also… “K”….. your fish story needs to be told here. There’s fish death involved (real or imagined), yes???

  15. Belle on January 29th, 2020 5:51 pm

    I chuckled all through this altho a bit scared that the cat was gone-gone. Glad all is well! My story is: Dec. 1979, hugely pregnant, on maternity leave and dog-sitting my folks’ terrior who didn’t much like us, or we, her. She was small enough to get under the back yard fence and escaped. So here I am, 9-months pregnant, in a pink long robe, and slippers, walking through the neighborhood in the snow trying to find her. She toyed with me several times but I finally was able to pick her up and take her home. A few days later Mom called and after me pitifully telling her the story of how we almost lost their dog, she says: “Oh honey, you should have just left her. She’d eventually come back and if she didn’t, oh well.” Loved.my.mom!

  16. Lindsay Ferrier on January 30th, 2020 10:43 am

    Laughed out loud imagining you trying to get out under the garage door. 😂

  17. Erica on January 31st, 2020 2:00 pm

    The perfectly stated realness of this, down to the spiderwebs on that gross sweep part of the garage door bottom. You are a talented writer!

    “flattening myself on the ground in order to Mission-Impossible my way out of a garage but not before the spiderweb-encrusted door scraped its way across my actual sideturned face —”

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